Yesterday’s oral argument in the Facebook “true threat” case, Elonis v. United States, provides more ammunition for why the Supreme Court would benefit making oral arguments more accessible to the American people. And I’m not even talking about cameras in the Court. Live audio feeds would be fine, or at minimum immediate release of an audio recording following oral arguments. (Current Court policy, which is as strange as it is indefensible, is to release the audio of oral arguments at the end of each week. Check back here on Friday afternoon to listen.) Interested citizens, students, and teachers should be listening—right now—to the lively, accessible, and generally quite edifying oral arguments that took place at the Court yesterday.
Not only would we actually get to hear our esteemed Chief Justice quote some nasty Eminem lyrics, but we would get a nice primer in some basic challenges of First Amendment doctrine and evidentiary standards in criminal law. I love reading Lyle Denniston’s post-argument recaps at SCOTUSblog, and listening to NPR’s Nina Totenberg reenact oral arguments is always entertaining. But why not some audio too?